AIOH welcomes the new lowered exposure standard for Welding Fume
I am happy to share the news that Work Health & Safety Ministers have approved the retention of the welding fume workplace exposure standard (WES) and its reduction from 5 mg/m3 to 1mg/m3 as a time-weighted average (TWA).
WorkSafe Victoria have also issued a press release urging Victorian employers to assess their control measures for managing welding fumes and stating that in 2019, three Victorian workers have died due to disease caused by welding fumes. The WorkSafe Victoria statement also reminds us that that welding fumes may contain substances with exposure standards less than 1 mg/m3.
Our members will be aware that the AIOH Position Paper on Welding and Thermal Cutting Fume published in 2022, recommended a trigger level for inhalable welding and thermal cutting fume. This was in addition to the individual hazardous contaminants in the fume. The trigger level that was suggested was 1 mg/m3 as a TWA.
As we know, there are a very large cohort of workers who are potentially regularly exposed to welding fume, and exposure significantly contributes to the work-related burden of disease.
I encourage our members to read the Position Paper which provides a concise summary of the scientific evidence in support of this exposure standard including that pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases and carcinogenic effects. Members should also note AS 3853.1—1991 Fume from welding and allied processes Part 1: Guide to methods for the sampling and analysis of particulate matter for guidance on measurement of welding fume.
Members can access information on this change from the Safe Work Australia website here: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/media-centre/news/changes-workplace-exposure-standard-welding-fumes
Thank you & regards.
AIOH 2024 President
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